Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies (Environmentally Sustainable Investment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:21 am on 11th September 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative, Grantham and Stamford 11:21 am, 11th September 2020

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that bonds as an instrument of capital markets are a more precise way of targeting private capital towards green projects, which is what the hon. Member for Cardiff North is aiming to do. I entirely agree that the sovereign level, as we have seen recently with the German €6 billion bond issuance, has been a very effective way of moving private capital into green infrastructure investments. Indeed, of that bond issue, 22% came from British investors. I would like British investors to be investing in British renewable infrastructure. I therefore suggest to her that bonds may be a more effective security than shares to help co-operatives move and raise capital towards environmental purposes.

Last year, the Co-op, the second-largest co-operative, issued a £300 million sustainability bond funding its Fairtrade work. It was a real flagship, and I would like to see more. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me in encouraging co-ops to issue more green and sustainable bonds.

As I have just mentioned, bonds provide several advantages over equities. They are more targeted. We can ring-fence the capital and the use of proceeds in a much more effective and accountable way. Green bond principles, which are now an international standard for what we mean by “green”, are a clear benefit of bonds. Again, one of my criticisms of this Bill is that it is not clear or specific enough. I know that the hon. Lady talked about dealing with that in Committee, but I would like to see more detail at this stage on what we mean by “green” so that we avoid greenwashing. Finally, green bonds are a huge market. They are a proven way of raising private capital towards green benefits. It is a trillion-dollar market globally, yet only 2% of green bond issuance is denominated in pounds sterling.